Another wonderful Summer Wild Food Adventure yesterday roaming around Molesey Heath led by my fabulous friend and medical herbalist, Janine Gerhardt – so good to be out and about with foraging friends again. Although we were not able to enjoy our usual workshop due to restrictions around social distancing, we did end the day with a picnic, which included a bowl of delicious Meadowsweet & Cherry Ice Cream.
Meadowsweet is truly the Queen of the Meadows, a profusion of fluffy white flowers with a delicate, sweet scent that reminds me of baby talc (am I the only one?). Its fragrance made it popular as a strewing herb used to fragrance the floors of homes, whilst providing the additional benefit of acting as an insecticide. This dainty flower is a powerful herb and the original source of salicylic acid – the key ingredient of aspirin. Because of this it is commonly used by herbalists as an effective anti-inflammatory with the added benefit that, unlike aspirin, it is very gentle on the gut.
Because of its salicylic acid content, it should be avoided by anyone allergic to aspirin and should be avoided during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Caution may also be warranted by those with asthma or on blood-thinning medication.
The meadowsweet has been partnered with sweet cherries. Sadly, I missed the wild cherry season and had to use shop bought cherries (next year I will be better organised!). I have however chosen to add a dash of sour cherry juice concentrate which adds an intense, sour cherry flavour to the ice cream. This can either be added to the ice cream before churning, or drizzled over the frozen ice cream just before serving. Like the meadowsweet, the sour cherry also provides more than a just a flavour, as it has been traditionally used to ease joint pain (especially gout), and is also a source of melatonin, so may also help support restful sleep.
All of that aside – it was delicious!
Thanks to www.rosiebirkett.com for the original recipe and inspiration.
Meadowsweet & Cherry Ice Cream
- 200g cherries, pitted and sliced
- 10 heads of meadowsweet flowers (shaken free of insects!)
- 300ml double cream
- 300ml whole milk
- 100g xylitol (or sweetener of choice)
- 3 large eggs (we only need the egg yolks for this recipe)
- 1-2 teaspoons sour cherry juice concentrate (eg: Cherry Active)
- Pour the milk and cream into a saucepan and add 50g of xylitol and the meadowsweet.
- Gently heat, stirring frequently until just reaching boiling point, then remove from the heat and allow to infuse for 30 minutes.
- Separate the eggs.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the remaining 50g of xylitol until frothy and thick.
- Strain the infused cream through a muslin cloth, then return to the pan and bring just up to the boil.
- Slowly pour the hot cream into the egg mixture, whisking continuously.
- Return to mixture to a clean saucepan and heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring continuously, until the mixture starts to thicken (you are looking for a texture that coats the back of a wooden spoon).
- Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
- Pour into an ice cream maker along with the cherries and churn, according to manufacturer’s instructions, for about 40-50 minutes or until softly frozen.
- Enjoy immediately drizzled with 1-2 teaspoons of sour cherry juice concentrate, or transfer into a container and freeze until required.